Brazilian artist Andrezza Valentin and filmmaker Guilherme Marcondes’ breakout solo exhibition “Geometry of Ruins” recently opened at Flux’s Venice space, drawing an international crowd of delighted guests. New works by the husband-and-wife team consisted of photography, animation and a video installation, which were produced over a period of one year in three of the largest contemporary cities in the world–Los Angeles, New York and São Paulo. Though the subject is the same in all cases, each place has its own unique, contemporary, abandoned structures. Each city creates different dreams and its varying degrees of architecture influence the resulting works in a definitive way–the melancholic photo shoot of the ruins of an unfinished art center in our hometown São Paulo, the menacing glamour of artificial lights over one crumbled wall of the only Californian socialist colony and the abstract rigidity of Manhattan’s grid reflected in a mirror box, multiplying fragile structures to infinity.
SXH: Can you tell us a bit about where you are from?
AV & GM: We are from São Paulo, one of the biggest cities in the world with 8 million people. São Paulo is a melting pot of cultures that is reflected in one of the most important art scenes in Latin America.
SXH:What did you want to be when you were a child?
AV: I always wanted to be an artist. I started studding painting when I was 10 years old, but later in college I gave up painting and started experimenting with other media.
GM: I wanted to do with something related to illustration or animation but I never thought of it in terms of a profession. I just wanted to work creating images.
SXH:How did you get your first breakthrough?
AV: I think one of my earliest breakthroughs was in 2001, when I started working with ephemeral materials. At the time I built an installation made of mirror and 550 pounds of ice. After this show I got accepted at ENSBA – Paris and later I was invited to be part of Galeria Vermelho in São Paulo.
GM: It was a short film I’ve created with Andrezza called “Tyger”. I believe that’s was the first time I’ve successfully put all my directorial skills to work.
SXH:Where do you find inspiration and influence on a daily basis? why?
AV & GM: Our influences come from fantastic and supernatural stories, architecture, cinema, and mostly from the city and its urban aesthetic. I think these are our main sources of inspiration, because it is something that we were always exposed to growing up in such a complex and intense place such as São Paulo.
SXH:Anyone you desire to work with/for?
AV: There are so many people that I admire, but its is hard to say who I would like to work with. For me working with someone is beyond admiration. It is more about common interest and chemistry. Sometimes it can take a while to a build a relationship where everybody feels comfortable to share their creative process and inspiration. Because of that I’d rather work with friends.
GM: I double that.
SXH:What’s the best thing about the city you live in? why?
AV: I live in NYC and for me the best thing is the intensity of the city that is 24 hours. I feel alive, inspired. I think NYC doesn’t need an explanation. It speaks for itself.
GM: São Paulo also has this vibrant 24-hour feel but it still lacks the social structure to turn all the potential talent that exists there into real work. It’s getting much better though.
SXH:Where is the best place to eat? why?
AV & GM: At any Lebanese restaurant in São Paulo. We love the pita pies called “esfiha”.
SXH:Best Shop in your city? Why?
AV & GM: We just recently discovered a large Japanese bookstore called Kinokuniya. There’s a great selection of Japanese magazines, books, DVDs.
SXH:Best Gallery in your city? Why?
AV & GM: Eyebeam because it is a non-profit art and technology center that supports artists that works with new and mixed media.
SXH:Favorite place to visit? why?
AV & GM: New neighborhoods, specially the ones with a significant amount of new immigrants, so I can discover and learn about new cultures, try new kinds of food and restaurants.
SXH:What do you think of the current climate of the art scene? Why?
AV & GM: I actually think this economic crisis is going to be good for the art scene. In the last few years the market was so inflated that it didn’t matter anymore if the art was good or not, just if it was sellable. In terms of quality of work periods of economic downturns always seem to produce more interesting, creative work.
SXH:What artists are changing the way we think at the moment?
AV & GM: The artist role has changed in the past decades. Most of the new thinking is coming from technology, a lot of it from the internet with social communities, youtube, etc. Artists are more and more shifting to new media, and trying to use technology as the new form to make people aware and critical about the environment and their individual impact on society.
SXH:Any artists that perhaps we should look out for? Why?
AV & GM: Ryan Trecartin, Sarah Sze, David Altmejd, Eyebeam collaborators.
SXH:Where do you see the art scene in 10 years time?
AV & GM: The mainstream will always be there, but I think we’ll have more experimental and alternative ways of doing and thinking about art as opposed to the gallery format that we know now. I think because of technology we won’t necessarily need to rely on a few “mediators” to validate ourselves and our work. Artists are already starting to organize themselves to create alternative and experimental exhibition spaces and trying to figure out how to make this a sustainable way of living without depending on the already establish art market. I would venture to say that the art scene around the world will probably become more independent and decentralized from Europe and North America.
“Geometry of Ruins” will be on view until July 11 and is part of the Flux Salon, an evening of intimate gatherings to foster community among Los Angeles’ creative set.
326 Sunset Avenue
Venice, CA 90291
To view photos from the opening reception, please click here.